[b-hebrew] Judges 5:2, two questions

Dana Densmore verdelion at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 31 12:15:23 EDT 2008

Dear Pere Porta,

Thank you for your reply to my query.  On the first question, you gave me examples of masculine nouns not ending in --AH taking an WT plural form by just adding WT after the third consonant.  That does answer my question.  No doubt I have seen such words, but somehow I had got it in my head that the masculine nouns were pluralized with the feminine-form plural because they had ended in --AH, thus sounding feminine and creating a pull toward the WT.  Thanks; it's interesting that the pull to WT can be independent of the form of the singular.  Or perhaps it's just that the gender form is lightly held in the living language.

On the second question, you say that you don't think the past tense in English is a good understanding of the Hebrew here for the infinitives BPR( and BHTNDB.  The interpretation I am putting our for consideration is to take the B as "when" or "in [doing this thing]".   "When unbinding" [was happening] and "when offering themselves" [was happening], then they blessed.  I agree that the way we go on the last two words is going to affect how those infinitives are translated.  

Other than the fact that the whole thrust of the song is to bless YHWH and to exhort others to do so (a strong argument for taking these words as imperative), is there anything in the language or grammar itself that would prevent the interpretation that when the people did these things they blessed YHWH?

Dana Densmore

From: "pporta at oham.net" <pporta at oham.net>
To: Dana Densmore <verdelion at yahoo.com>; b-hebrew posts <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, October 31, 2008 2:29:57 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Judges 5:2, two questions

> 1.  re the verb root PR( and its associated noun.  Whether we are taking 
> it to be related to leading/leaders or to the unbinding of hair, we have 
> the masculine singular noun in the same form PERA( appearing in what I 
> (and BDB) take to be a plural noun PR(WT.
> My question is whether there are other singular nouns of a similar form 
> whose plural looks like this.  Is it common for an --A( patach ayin ending 
> to be pluralized like a --AH ending?  Did it sound to the ear like an --AH 
> feminine form and thus get a feminine form plural? (I'm not bothered by 
> the fact that the noun is masculine, that's not my question.)  When it's 
> an --AH singular it just goes to --WT replacing the AH; here it maintains 
> the ayin and adds the WT.  Where else, if anywhere, does this happen?


This happens in MANY places!  A masculine noun having -WT as its plural 
absolute form. Even if the usual plural form of a masculine is in -YM, there 
are MANY masculine nouns that have it in -WT:

1. QEBER, grave (Gn 23:4) ------- L/QBRWT, (to) graves (Jb 21:32)
2. Q:RFB, battle (Zc 14:3) -------- Q:RFBWT, battles (Ps 68:31)
3. L"BFB, heart (Dt 28:28) -------- L:BBWT, hearts (1Ch 28:9)
and so on...

It is not something unusual but quite usual.

> 2.  The last two words of the verse certainly could be an imperative, [you 
> pl] Bless YHVH.  And given the context of the Song, that seems probably 
> most likely.  But is there any internal evidence that would prevent the 
> sense of the verse from being "when men were unbinding their hair in 
> Israel [or the leaders leading], and when the people were offering 
> themselves, they blessed YHVH."  That is, that their coming out for the 
> war at Deborah's/YHVH's call was an act of blessing.


To my mind the verse meaning is: "Both when leaders arise in Israel and 
(thus) people volunteers, (in both cases) bless the Lord! (or in passive: 
"be the Lord blessed!"), ie let us praise/thank God.

I do not think the past tense in English (*) to be a good understanding of 
the Hebrew here.

(*) ... were (unbinding)...; ...were (offering)...

Pere Porta
Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain)

> Dana Densmore
> University of Wales
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